Presented by BetterHelp…

People with body dysmorphic disorder struggle with their self-perception. They become obsessed with a tiny flaw or defect on their body that others may not even perceive. Nevertheless, they become anxious about the defect and completely change their life and routine to fix or cover it up.

Art therapy is a tool that can help people with this disorder heal and see themselves in a more positive way. Art therapy can be used as a form of self-care, promoting relaxation, mindfulness, and healthy expression. In addition, it helps people with this disorder learn to accept themselves and integrate and heal their trauma and experiences. Read on to learn more about body dysmorphic disorder and how it can be treated with art therapy.

Signs Of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health disorder where a person becomes preoccupied or obsessed with a particular flaw or defect on their body. Though the defect is usually minor and rarely detected by others, the person will believe it makes them ugly and go to any means to fix it or get rid of it.

Some common concerns of people with this disorder include:

  • Skin imperfections
  • Hair
  • Facial features
  • Bodyweight or shape

People with body dysmorphic disorder are willing to spend enormous amounts of money or try risky treatments to “fix” their bodies. For example, they may get a penis or breast enhancement or use botox to rid themselves of their wrinkles.

If they can’t fix the defect easily, then they will go out of their way to hide it from others. For example, they may wear excessive clothing that hides the defect or avoid social interactions altogether.

Some common signs that someone may be developing body dysmorphic disorder include:

  • Picking at skin or a particular body part
  • Looking in the mirror often
  • Asking others for reassurance that the defect isn’t that noticeable
  • Consulting with medical professionals often about the defect
  • Avoiding school, work, or social engagements to prevent people from seeing them

If you are interested in further reading about this disorder, you can find more information and resources at the link below:

How Art Therapy Can Help

Art therapy is a powerful tool that helps people heal from all sorts of mental health conditions. It is proving to be quite helpful for people with body dysmorphic disorder, too, allowing them to express their emotions, experience mindfulness, find acceptance, feel relaxed, and integrate their trauma. Read on to learn more about how this occurs.


Art is a form of expression that allows someone to exhibit their deepest thoughts and emotions without conveying them through words. This form of therapy can help someone show their distress in a more powerful way than verbal communication. They can show the feelings that are hard to express and exhibit exactly how they feel in their bodies. This not only shows the world their pain but makes them more aware of their own distress.


Art allows people to stay in the moment and enjoy the process. While creating something beautiful, a person with body dysmorphic disorder can temporarily let go of their negative thoughts and just enjoy the activity. People often get lost in their art and temporarily put aside all their worries and anxious thoughts.


Art therapy provides a safe space where there is no judgment or shame. A person can create whatever they want to express themselves and show their thoughts to the world. This conduces acceptance of themselves, as their art often reveals to them the true beauty that is underneath.


Art is a relaxing activity. It helps calm the body and ease the mind. Art does not pressure anyone, nor does it judge them. This allows a safe space for someone with body dysmorphic disorder to relax and just be in their body as they create.


Art allows people to integrate their traumas and negative experiences. This is important for people with body dysmorphic disorder, as trauma or negative perceptions are often what fuel the preoccupation with their defects. Art allows them to reconnect with their bodies and process their traumas in a safe way that few other treatments can do.

Final Thoughts

It can be difficult for a person with body dysmorphic disorder to heal their self-perception and love their bodies. However, art therapy has shown to be the safe activity they need to process their emotions and learn to accept themselves. Art therapy has shown to heal in ways that other treatment options can’t and can gently coax a person back into a state of self-love.